A shallow pond under autumn foliage in Doho Park, Tsukuba

Continuing our “urban hiking” from yesterday, today we were back in Doho Park. It was relatively warm today, with overcast skies, and as usual the park was awash with autumn colors from the poplar, maple and ginkgo trees.

These shallow pools are at the inner part of the park behind the overgrown tall reeds where countless birds make their nests, unseen by park visitors but whose presence could be surmised by their faint but incessant quacking and squawking and cawing.

My wife recalls a conversation from school:

“Sensei, what’s ahiru in English?”
“A duck.”
“How about kamo?”
“Umm, it’s also a duck.”
“No, it’s not!”

So what’s the difference? Beats me. If it quacks like a duck…

A haiku

furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto


an ancient pond
a frog jumps in
sound of water

Bashō might have been contemplating the stillness of a pond not unlike this when he wrote his famous 17-syllable poem.

Before autumn comes summer

Here’s a haiku about summer, also from Bashō:

shizukasa ya
iwa ni shimiiru
semi no koe


the stillness:
penetrating the rock
a cicada’s cry

In haiku, metaphor does not exist

The book I’m reading explains:

The poet is on a mountainside. It is very still.
Suddenly, a cicada has started to cry.
Its voice seemed as if it is penetrating
the rock in front of his eyes.
No, it is not just as if penetrating,
it actually is penetrating it.
In haiku, metaphor does not exist.
Whatever is felt becomes the reality.


Life is short, like a haiku

It’s the quiet times like this when one can contemplate the changing of the seasons in peace that makes living in Japan worth it.

Winter is coming. After that another spring–and cherry blossoms. And then the sound of cicadas again in the summer.

There will be a time in the future when spring will not come anymore. But that time seems far off. In the meantime, here’s this little pond where we can experience life’s last burst of energy before it succumbs to its inevitable end.